We brought two Taiwanese friends who had never visited Singapore or Malaysia to the Chinatown Heritage Centre yesterday. Even as Singaporeans, we had never stepped into this heritage centre. It was a treat for us too and our Taiwanese friends to view the three restored shophouses on Pagoda Street in Chinatown.
The Singapore Tourism Board rejuvenated these shophouses by re-creating the living quarters of early settlers from China who moved south to Southern Seas (南洋) in search of better lives in 1940s and 1950s. These early settlers hold labour-intensive jobs to carve out a living. They included tailor, trishaw rider, street hawker, carpenter, clog maker, 妈姐, 红头巾, etc. My father was one of these immigrants who adopted Singapore as home. He was a trishaw rider in those days and he plied the streets here and the Singapore River area. So it was nostalgic for me to relive the era of my father by visiting Chinatown Heritage Centre. I was born in the 50s and to see the things used in that period brought back many childhood memories.
Chinatown Heritage Centre created many 8 feet by 8 feet cubicles in these shophouses to showcase the living rooms of different residents (by occupations). It was authentic since the items on display were real things used back then. We were so excited on seeing these items and chatted about those good old days (incidentally there were five of us who are seniors and we did not have to pay since we brought in a paying visitor each).
In this 8×8 living space, I was amazed that 8 family members could stay in this tiny room. We could see the tools of their different trades being brought into their living rooms. Ground level was where the common kitchen, toilet and bathroom were located. Imagine so many residents co-existed with the common space.
For information visit: http://www.chinatownheritagecentre.com.sg
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
We spent some time touring this temple and museum. It was worth a visit if you in Chinatown.
Rounding up the trip
In order to show our foreign friends where we normally frequent for foods and drinks, we brought them to the nearby Chinatown Complex Food Centre. We took them to 二姑糖水for some local sweet desserts and introduced them to our local black coffee (南洋咖啡).